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Where Should You Place Smoke Detectors?

3/13/2022 (Permalink)

Where to Place the Smoke Detectors in Your Home.

Whether you’re building a new home or adding an addition to your home, you want to be sure you put smoke detectors in the right place for the greatest fire safety.

There are guidelines for the placement of smoke detectors that you should keep in mind. You may need to upgrade the smoke detectors in older parts of a home at the same time that you install new smoke detectors in an addition. Same applies if you are upgrading your office. The International Building Code (IBC), is a comprehensive compilation of safe building guidelines, which includes a requirement to upgrade an entire home’s smoke detection system at the same time any major remodeling occurs, such as a large addition.

Did You Know? Smoke detectors must be connected to one another and wired to the home’s electrical system. This is called an “interconnected” system, and if one smoke detector goes off, all of them will, alerting folks throughout the house. The battery-operated smoke detectors already in your home will probably need to be replaced by an interconnected system, if you don’t already have one.

You should call your local building authority to find out if your community has adopted IBC’s smoke detector rules. Fortunately, the guidelines as to where to put smoke detectors are simple, so be sure to learn how many you’ll need and where to place them to protect your family. Here are some good guidelines:

  • Install detectors on or as near to the ceiling as possible. Many smoke detectors are designed to mount to a ceiling, but some can also be wall-mounted when attaching to a ceiling isn’t feasible. In this case, smoke detectors should be within a few inches of the ceiling. IBC requires a detector be installed within 12 inches of the ceiling, but the closer, the better.

  • Install a smoke detector in every sleeping area. This means every bedroom or any other space in your home where someone might sleep.

  • A detector should be installed in a hallway if one or more bedroom doors open from the hallway. Just one detector is necessary for this spot, whether the hallway serves one bedroom or three. The detector should be centrally located between the bedroom doors.

  • Install a detector in any room that lies on the path between a sleeping area and the closest exterior door. For example, if a bedroom door opens into a hallway and to get outside from there, you’d have to go through a great room, put a detector in the great room. If the route of escape then passes through the kitchen, a detector should be located in the great room and in the kitchen. Any room you’ll pass through from the bedroom to the exterior door should have a detector.

  • Install at least one smoke detector on every level of your home. While smoke detectors are vital in sleeping areas, you’ll need to put one on every floor, even if that floor has no bedrooms. This includes an unfinished basement.

  • To prevent false triggering of the smoke detectors, don’t install them too near a stove or a steamy bathroom. Nothing’s more frustrating than all the detectors in the house going off because someone burned the toast. The IBC recommends positioning smoke detectors a minimum distance away from stoves, ovens, and bathrooms, depending on the type of detector being installed:

    • A photoelectric smoke detector (triggered when smoke or steam blocks a beam of light) should be located no closer than six feet from a cooking appliance, such as a stove or oven, and no closer than three feet from a bathroom door.

    • An ionization smoke detector (smoke enters a chamber and interrupts an electrical current, which triggers the alarm) should be installed no closer than 20 feet from a cooking appliance, and no closer than three feet from a bathroom door. Ionization smoke detectors are sensitive to even tiny amounts of smoke or steam.

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